Positively Optimistic!

Most likely you have a negative Nancy or a Debbie downer in your life. I know I have a couple. But did you know that having a pessimistic personality can actually mean you have poorer health?

It’s TRUE!

Studies have shown that people with a positive outlook on life have better overall health. In fact, ‘optimism increases longevity; increases your spiritual development; promotes positive relationships; and even decreases anxiety’ (McCarthy, 2013).

According to Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012), ‘optimists believe that good things are very likely to happen. [T]hese people have positive outcome expectancies that significantly influence both their thinking and their approach to the world. The belief that a desirable goal in life is attainable has incentive value for the individual; that is, it stimulates or energizes both one’s goal-directed thinking and one’s goal-directed action. Positive expectancies also cause people to be more persistent when pursuing their goals.’

So, basically, the more optimistic you are, the more likely you are to get the things you want out of life. This can help people experience happiness in romantic endeavors, personal relationships, friendships, and even their careers. Optimism ‘allows you to approach a crisis with strength and resolve’ and ‘sets a positive tone for your day’ (McCarthy, 2013).

With all the benefits of being positive, it seems down right negative to be pessimistic!

And just in case you were wondering what kind of person you are … take this quiz to find out if you are an optimist or not!





Are You Optimistic or Pessimistic? (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.seemypersonality.com/personality.asp?p=Optimism-Test

McCarthy, J. (2013). Optimism and Happiness. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved from http://splash.suntimes.com/2013/07/11/optimism-and-happiness

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

1 comment

  1. Paul Michael Pozzi

    If you were to ask my wife if she has a “Debbie Downer” in her life she might chime in and say that I have been that very thing (Danny Downer?) the last two years as I have worked to finish my degree. By nature this is not my typical modus operandi, but returning to school at age 34 to finish my degree has tested my optimistic personality to the point of tipping the scales in the opposite direction.
    While I still believe I have an optimistic personality at the core, I do believe that the two are related constructs that are inevitably linked by one’s mood and personality given certain phases and events in a person’s life. According to Marshall, Wortman, Kusulas, Hervig, and Vickers Jr. (1992), “pessimism was principally associated with neuroticism and negative effect” while “optimism was primarily associated with extraversion and positive effect”. I can see how this may be true, but believe that there are some people who go through periods of optimism and at other times pessimism.
    Up until my decision to finish my degree I would have classified myself as a realistic optimist. I would look at things and try to see the positive in them and would obtain gratification from the people and the world around me. However, working full time shift work and going to school full time has left me with almost no time for my family, let alone to have a social life with friends and see the world in a positive light. The worry to provide for my family, fear of not completing school or failing, frustration / exhaustion over lack of sleep and an overwhelming amount of school and professional work has left me neurotic and on most weeks in a pessimistic mood in regards to just about everything. Overall, my health prior to school and my mood were far better then they were during these last two years as I finished my degree. I definitely believe that these studies hold merit and that our decision to be optimistic versus pessimistic plays a vital role in our overall health.

    Marshall, Grant N.; Wortman, Camille B.; Kusulas, Jeffrey W.; Hervig, Linda K.; Vickers Jr., Ross R.
    Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 62(6), Jun 1992, 1067-1074. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.62.6.1067

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